I’ve taken (and passed) this course twice actually. It’s called Astrobiology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life, and is on the Coursera platform.
The course spends most of it’s time going over the questions: what is life, and what are the boundaries of the conditions required to support life? It then talks about the types of planets scientists are discovering, and which ones are the most promising in terms of having the possibility for life in some form.
I love science, and I love space, so this topic was right up my alley. The reason I took the class twice was that I was unable to take the last couple of weeks of videos the first time around and I really wanted to finish this class.
Incidentally, I took liberal advantage of the “download videos” option of the Coursera iPhone App for this class. I watched most of the videos on my iPod. This definitely helped me finish the class this time around.
I found the videos well done and easy to watch. Clearly the professor was standing in front of a green screen the whole time, but the images displayed on the screen behind him were not cheesy or distracting. They added to the learning. Each week’s video had a summary at the very end “what have we learned” which also contributed to the processing of the information. The professor did a good job covering the entire history and current status of the search for the origins of life and life on other planets in this class. Even though it was an introductory class, I came away feeling like I knew at a basic level almost everything.
This class is recommended for anyone who is interested in space and even the history of life on Earth. I can’t really say a bad thing about this class. If it interests you, plan to take it.